The festive season is one of good cheer which, translated, usually means a series of social gatherings with the demon drink playing a leading role.
For those who may find themselves unable to locate their off-switch before they embark on embarrassing, drink-related misdemeanours or for those who have chosen to abstain entirely and are approaching Christmas feeling miserable and isolated, the Sinclair Method represents an innovative approach to tackling alcoholism or excessive drinking.
‘Unique’ and ‘innovative’ are words that are often thrown around in medical circles as new treatments and products rapidly hit the market, but the Sinclair Method is certainly unique and innovative in the treatment of alcoholism.
Prescribing a pill that is to be taken an hour before the first drink is consumed, the patient is told to keep drinking. Not stop drinking, which is the current accepted approach to alcoholism, but keep drinking and do this for the rest of your life.
Over time, following the Sinclair Method, an outstandingly high number of patients find that their levels of drinking will naturally decline to what is considered ‘normal’ drinking levels. With no need for psychotherapy to prevent relapse or a period of detoxification, as the body will naturally detoxify over time as alcohol consumption decreases.
What is this magic pill?
The medication used in the Sinclair Method is a short-acting opiod inhibitor, usually taken in a pill form.
Opiods are medication that are used for pain management, but which also form the basis for many drugs such as heroin, morphine and methadone. In recent years, misuse of pain-relieving drugs, such as vicodin, codine and oxycontin, have also become a serious problem.
Opiods mimic the effect of endorphins; chemicals in the brain that both relieve pain and produce pleasurable highs. Over time you can become addicted to these sensations, seeking illegal drugs or misusing alcohol to recreate the highs. An opiod inhibitor has the opposite function to an opiod; it doesn’t cause pain but it does remove the pleasurable feelings.
Short-acting means that the effect of the drug is intense but very short-lived, which is important, as a long-acting drug that reduced all pleasurable feelings could easily engender depression.
By taking this medication before you drink, the pleasurable high you get from drinking is reduced, meaning that the desire to drink excessively disappears.
The results from the Sinclair Method have been incredibly successful. Dr Sinclair developed the Method in Finland and data from clinics in Finland have shown highly significant reductions in alcohol consumption of more than 78 per cent. Dr Sinclair is a consultant to Florida’s Sinclair Method, and there the results have been more than 85 per cent since 2002.
Dr Joshua Berkowitz, our medical director at London’s Wimpole Aesthetics, has long been aware of the effectiveness of this treatment, as he has been familiar with Dr Sinclair’s work since its inception and has been offering the Sinclair Method to his London patients for many years.
He sums up the impact of the Sinclair Method: “An alcoholic or someone who drinks excessively is not enjoying the drink they are currently consuming. They are thinking about the next drink and the one after that. And, if the window to buy that drink or the means to purchase that drink is limited, then it directly affects their behaviour.”
“By following the Sinclair Method, you can enjoy the drink you have and it doesn’t change the taste, the results or the pleasure you get from it, but the gratification is not so high or intense that your behaviour is affected.”